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How to send money to someone without a bank account

Find out what your options are when you send and receive money without a bank account in Canada.

Approximately 1 million people in Canada don’t have a bank account. Without a bank account, bank transfers are not an option when you need to move money. But don’t worry, you have options. Here’s how to send money to someone that doesn’t have a bank account.

Best options to send money to someone without a bank account

There are plenty of ways to send money to someone without a bank account, each with different levels of speed, security and convenience. Here are some of the best options:

Use an online money transfer service

Sending money through a money transfer service is an option for both sending without a bank account and sending money to someone without a bank account. Several money transfer services allow you to both pay in cash and have cash delivered to your receiver.

Your recipient could receive the funds the same day if they’re delivered via cash pickup or delivery. This option can come with high fees, so be sure to compare money transfer services that offer cash pickup.

Transfer to a cash pickup location

You can transfer money to a cash pickup location in most countries, typically through a third-party money transfer service. The process is similar to that of most transfers, at least on your end. Once the funds have arrived in the third-party service’s bank accounts, they will be directed to one of their partner’s cash pickup locations where your recipient can head over to and collect their funds.

Send via mobile wallet

Mobile wallets, often called e-wallets, aren’t as complicated as they may first sound. There are plenty of popular apps like Apple Pay, Google Pay and similar services. Mobile wallets can often be created without a bank account, and some of them even allow you to access your funds through a debit card that connects directly to your account balance. Keep the following in mind with mobile wallets:

  • Both the sender and receiver must have the same mobile wallet for the transaction to be free.
  • Although mobile wallets are often free to use, fees may apply when using additional features like expedited transfers or paying by credit card.

Use credit cards

Some money transfer services allow you to pay by credit card, which is convenient if you don’t have a bank account to fund the transfer. Paying by credit card will almost always be more expensive when sending money, but you can often save money by shopping around. For added convenience, a handful of money transfer services will allow you to pay by credit card and have the money available for cash pickup within minutes.

Use a money order

Money orders may seem like a thing of the past, but they certainly still have a use in the digital age.

When using a money order, keep in mind that:

  • They are one of the slowest ways to send money without a bank account.
  • They require ID to send and receive.
  • They are often more expensive than using a money transfer service.

Use prepaid debit cards

Money transfer services that allow you to pay by credit card will also usually accept prepaid debit cards. Unlike credit cards, prepaid debit cards are pre-loaded with cash so before you make the transfer, ensure you have sufficient funds in your card. As is the case with paying by credit card, using a debit card will also usually be more expensive due to transaction fees charged by your debit card provider.

However, unlike using a credit card, using a prepaid debit card can also be much safer, especially if you are keying in your card details into an unknown third-party service’s website. Should your transaction be intercepted or your card details stolen, only the pre-loaded funds will be at risk.

Mail the cash directly

Withdrawing cash from your bank account to send through the mail is the least recommended method, but it is still an option. If you choose to send cash, be sure to:

  • Send the cash in an envelope that hides the cash. Test this by holding the envelope with cash inside in front of bright light.
  • Insure your package for the amount of cash you’re sending.
  • Purchase tracking on your mail so you’ll know when it arrives.

Even with these safety nets in place, we still don’t recommend that you physically mail cash. Consider using a money order or a money transfer service instead.

How to choose the best transfer method?

To decide which transfer method is best for you and your recipient, consider:

  • How fast the funds need to be delivered. Money orders and prepaid debit cards will likely take significantly longer to reach your recipient than a mobile wallet transfer.
  • Affordability. Personal mobile wallet transfers that don’t use a credit card typically come without fees. However, it might be more difficult to access the funds than if you use a cash transfer. Money orders and prepaid debit cards usually have a low cost, and using a credit card will generally be the most expensive option.
  • Convenience. Depending on where your recipient lives and what they’re using the funds for, certain options may be favorable. Someone looking to shop online, for example, may find a PayPal transfer more convenient than cash pickup.
  • Security of the transfer. Data encryption helps protect your and your recipient’s information. Mailing a money order or prepaid debit card comes with the risk of them getting lost in transit.

Sending money with an online money transfer service

Making a transfer through any online money transfer service is usually a simple process. Here’s how it goes:

  • Create an account. You’ll need to provide details like your name, contact details and country of residence as well as documents to verify your identity.
  • Find the transfer page. Look for a button on the main page directing you to send money. Click on it and you’ll land on the money transfer page.
  • Finalise transfer details. You’ll need to input where you’re sending money to, in what currency and how the recipient will receive the funds.
  • Add in the recipient’s details. This includes the recipient’s name, address, bank details and the reason for the payment.
  • Confirm your payment method. For transfers from Canada, you can use a credit/debit card , a bank transfer or Internet banking.

Once you confirm the transfer, the money transfer service will take it from there. You can also track the transfer through email or in-app updates.

Frequently asked questions

How can I receive money without a bank account?

The easiest way is to have someone send money through a money transfer service for cash pickup. Other ways include having them send a money order, send money to your mobile wallet, send cash or send a prepaid debit card.

How much does it cost to send money without a bank account?

Costs vary based on the service you’re using, where you’re sending the funds and how they’re being received. Check with the transfer service, mobile wallet provider, money order issuer or prepaid debit card provider before you complete the transaction.

Can I send money to a mobile wallet using a transfer service?

Yes, certain transfer services allow you to send funds to the recipient’s phone via a mobile wallet. Western Union is among the providers that allow this, but many other options exist.

Do mobile wallets have to be linked to an account?

Several mobile wallets don’t require you to link a bank account. PayPal is one of the notable names that allow you to open an account and receive funds without linking a bank account or credit card.

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